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How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

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How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Swede » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 1]

Do you go with a recommendation from a trusted friend, search the internet, check State success statistics or roll the dice? To be clear, I have done none of the above.

I have almost always hunted where I work, or have worked. The exception to that is where I hunt now, which is near where my dad took me as a kid in the early 1960s.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Tigger » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 2]

Going through that right now in MT. Any and all of the above. The bummer is griz. I have a perfect spot. full of griz. My daughter and father want nothing to do with griz so that spot is out and I am at square one. If anyone has a magic elixir, please let me buy a bottle!
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Swede » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 3]

Tigger wrote:If anyone has a magic elixir, please let me buy a bottle!


Tigger, buy two more tree stand books. Get one for your daughter and one for your dad. Grizzlies don't climb trees.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Tigger » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 4]

you still have to come down from the trees Swede. most people, who are fairly removed from the primates in their ancestry, do not sleep in trees!
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby 7mmfan » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 5]

I've done this twice now in the last 5 years. Specific to out of state hunts where I don't have any experience in the area, and my ability to get boots on the ground is severely limited.

Start with the states game dept and regulations. For me, over the counter or easy to draw is important, so I use whatever tools those agencies provide to narrow my search by that restriction. Tools like GoHunt now lay this all out for you, for a fee.

Next I take the units that meet my tag requirements and check the harvest stats and land ownership distribution. I don't want to hunt a unit that has high success, but little public land. I'm more likely to hunt a unit with lower success but ample public land. The goal is to find the unit with the most access and highest success.

Lastly, I spend a fair amount of time looking at maps and satellite to get a feel for the landscape. Is it open, heavily forested, mixed? Steep mountains, rolling hills, flat land? What is the access like? Is there roads everywhere, or are there a few main roads with lots of trails and closed roads? Are the trails open for motorized use, or is it non-motorized? Not all units are equal, and I want to find the one or two that match my hunting style.

That's basically it. Get your tag, and if you can spend a long weekend in the unit exploring in the summer before your hunt to familiarize yourself. Just a day or two spent driving through a unit can provide an enormous wealth of information and allow you to cross spots off your map, or add new ones. Nothing beats time on the ground. With all this done, it still took me 5 years to really dial in the area we like to hunt.
I hunt therefore I am. I fish therefore I lie.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 03 24, 2021 •  [Post 6]

Tigger wrote:The bummer is griz. I have a perfect spot. full of griz. My daughter and father want nothing to do with griz so that spot is out and I am at square one. If anyone has a magic elixir, please let me buy a bottle!


I'll go over this one last time. For wolves, its simple. Throw a sick as far as you can and whistle "here boy, bring it back boy, come on boy"; when your stick returns with a wolf clamped on to it... bop the wolf in the head. For big cats, again... pretty simple. Lay down by a large blowdown tree across the trail you're hunting. Slide your army/hand up over the log and start scratching with your finger and call "kitty, kitty, kitty"... when the mountain lion approaches and starts to playfully tear your hand apart, bop it in the head. Bears' (all kinds) are the easiest of all! Find a den or really choked in blackberry thicket that has good bear sign. Place a picnic basket by the den or thicket, hide behind a big ol' cedar tree, and when the bear approaches your picnic basket to smack down on the PB&J sands, bop him in the head.

yogi-bear-picnic.png
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Indian Summer » 03 25, 2021 •  [Post 7]

A couple ways. Word of mouth from long time good friends. Can’t go wrong there and that usually comes with some details. I’ve never struck out with that method. Also by prospecting for new areas. I don’t go crazy and jump 300 miles away somewhere. I just keep migrating in different directions from where I’m already familiar with the type of country and behavior of the elk... hopefully. I have definitely struck out before doing that. But that doesn’t get me down. I love exploring and I know that I may have missed them by one ridge. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find the motherlode over there.

I was definitely born 100 years too late. I would have done ok hanging out with Jim Bridger and Jedediah Smith. Except for the fact that most of those guys got scalped by the time they were 30 years old or so. But they scoured the mountains looking for beaver and living on game. Sounds better than Covid life.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Roosiebull » 03 26, 2021 •  [Post 8]

i have always hunted areas i could spend as much time as possible in.... so realistically, convenience.... not convenient spots to get on critters, but convenient as in close to home.... close to home means more days in the woods.

after that it's access, i look for lots of access, and lots of difficult access....doesn't take a whole lot of difficulty to keep most people out of there. after that, i look for specific habitat, and not talking ideal, i actually tend to avoid ideal. obvious places that concentrate game also concentrate hunters, that's why i have liked NF land more and more... NF is very broad habitat that is difficult to navigate, people avoid that (i used to as well) it's a little intimidating when you have large tracts of land with no real defining features that's kind of all the same, and there are no nice roads to walk to cover ground.... to efficiently hunt it, you will be crossing canyons that are all full of salmon berry in the bottoms, and often the slopes aren't any better.... cross a couple of those, and see no fresh sign, it can break your will, unless you just accept that it will suck a little, but it's really not an issue, and sure beats hunting crowded timber company land.... it's always a mental/perspective game.

i am getting ready to move to a lot of ground i have no idea about, but i will start focusing close to home in areas with good access with some difficult country to get to, and go from there.

out of state? i would look for areas with a lot of access, and other options near by (avoid making plan B being on the other side of the state) i know the more time i can spend on scene, the better... whatever time i have to hunt, i want to minimize travel time and increase hunting time.... besides that, it's just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Lefty » 03 26, 2021 •  [Post 9]

My very first elk hunt my father-in-law had selected the unit by driving a road, getting stuck, setting up camp, and killing a bull then proceeded to hunt the unit for the next 30 years.

when I lived in Washington I was offered to come along on different hunts,. I was the guest. I




n Utah I put in for a couple of draw hunts CWMU unit hunt because they had good chances of drawing and almost guaranteed elk then once moving to Idaho again my father-in-law put in for a trophy hunt which was actually really close to his home and we started out hunting on a big private ranch which interesting all of those that drew on that unit were hunting adjoining to the property so evidently was the only big elk around

I selected my original archery hunting unit because I saw elk while we were antelope hunting l
Once my hip was fixed I headed for the mountains adjoining the area where I shot my first elk in Montana, 30 some years ago.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Indian Summer » 03 28, 2021 •  [Post 10]

I’ll back up to a day when I didn’t have things dialed in as much as I do now. I was hunting in a region with much more timber. Not nearly as much open country. Also the elk didn’t spend very much time in open areas during daylight hours. I looked for feed slopes that were just one or two ridges beyond other decent areas that were using the same trailhead or access point. If the road was coming from the bottom I’d be up high and vice versa. I like a situation where there is a nice area just above and beyond where I’m hunting that no sane man can get to and hunt. This doesn’t mean 6 miles further. I’m talking another mile or so as the crow flies. The grassy areas where they are feeding aren’t the type you’re going to see on Google Earth. Just south slopes up high where the trees are bigger and further apart allowing some tall grass to grow. Elk will use those spots year round and they can really be good once the elk from the upper areas start thinking about moseying on down hill. The spots that fit that description are all found by putting boots on the ground. Being smart about it though. Studying the topo first to try to guess where elk will prefer to feed. And also where they might be bedding. Bottleneck travel routes.


One thing worth mentioning is before hunting a spot like that I should be seeing elk and sign closer to the road. At least enough to know that there are elk there and so probably better hunting once you get things figured out. It seems like the sweet spots are right on the edge of where I would start thinking about setting a spike camp to really be able to hunt the area right meaning really early and late every day.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby Swede » 03 28, 2021 •  [Post 11]

To expand a little on I.S.'s post a little, I will add that after I have decided on an area and scouted/hunted it some, then more places to scout/hunt can be found on G.E. At that point you know the general area and have some experience on the ground. You just want to extend that hunting area and maybe have more places to find critters. I did that last year and will, the Lord willing, scout the area more this summer. It may be a plan D,E, or F, or maybe just having a variety of locations to choose from. In any case, the better you know a local watershed or drainages, the more successful you will likely be.
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Re: How Do You Pick A New Elk Hunting Unit

Postby RAMMONT » 04 03, 2021 •  [Post 12]

Swede wrote:
Tigger wrote:If anyone has a magic elixir, please let me buy a bottle!


Tigger, buy two more tree stand books. Get one for your daughter and one for your dad. Grizzlies don't climb trees.


Actually Grizzlies can climb some trees.

https://www.nathab.com/blog/grizzly-cli ... -preserve/
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